Burnout is the word which is synonymously related with the situation at the workplace. The term burnout was first introduced in the 1970s by the American psychologist Herbert Freudenberger. He had described the experience as the consequences of severe stress encountered by the ‘helping’ professional or specifically the healthcare workers who are consumed by their responsibility toll. Now, burnout is conceptualised that it not only affects the healthcare workers but also other workers who are with emotionally demanding professional roles at other work setups. In 2019, WHO officially described the burnout as the occupational phenomenon syndrome. WHO stated that although it is not a medical condition, it is described as a factor influencing health status or contact with health services. According to the WHO, burnout is a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterised by three component syndromes-exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy.
Exhaustion represents the individual stress component of burnout. The affected people feel drained and exhausted and therefore their emotions and physical resources are depleted. The work overload and personal conflict on the job were attributed as the contributing factors.
Cynicism refers to the interpersonal context component of burnout. It is the negative and detachment of interest towards work. Affected people will start to back off and cut down on what they were doing. Instead of doing their very best at their work places, they are regressing towards doing the minimum, callous and even hostile toward colleagues or client. They start feeling cynical toward the working condition and the people they work with.
Inefficiency refers to the personal evaluation of incompetency, lack of achievement and decreased productivity. At this stage, the affected people come to have a negative regard for themselves and for others as well. The result is poor productivity and morale at the workplace.
A Malaysian report – Malaysia’s Healthiest Workplace AIA Vitality Survey 2019 – highlighted that 51% of employees suffer from at least one dimension of work-related stress and 53% getting less than seven hours of sleep in 24-hour period. This finding shows that Malaysian employees are generally affected with burnout to a certain extent.
Detrimentally, burnout has a negative implication to the psychological, physical and social well-being of a person. The mental health of a person where he or she could experience depression, anxiety and anger affecting his or her day life functioning. Bringing about heart disease, hypertension and Type 2 diabetes particularly on the physical health. Burnout could expose the individual to alcohol or substance abuse, or personal negligence toward finance management and responsibilities. He or she could also risk negative social relationship with surrounding member and co-workers.
A Malaysian report – PwC’s Hopes and Fears Survey 2021 revealed that only 25% said their employer helped them manage stress and focus their emotional well-being while at the same time, only 22% were encourage to take short breaks in the working days.